Should I be looking at new cars before retirement?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I enjoy all your columns and value your opinions, but the articles that really grab my attention are the ones that concern older cars. I, a single, self-supporting lady fast approaching retirement, am the original owner of a 1985 Ford Escort with a 5-speed manual transmission. I've taken good care of it and when freshly washed and waxed, it looks as good as new. It has 135,000 miles on it. Guys, I ENJOY not having a monthly car payment. And when I retire, I don't think I'm going to have enough money to include one then. My point is, I think I detect you poking a little fun at owners of older cars. But gee, something that costs thousands of dollars OUGHT to last for years, don't you agree? How come it won't always be cheaper to keep repairing the old car than to buy a new one? And can you tell me how I can keep this car going until I wear out (and I'm extremely healthy!).

RAY: We've got all the answers, Chris. First of all, we're sending you a free copy of our new pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It." It tells you everything you need to know to keep this old beast running forever (by the way, anyone can get a copy of the pamphlet by sending $3 and an 8 X 10 nude photo to ....).

TOM: And about old cars, I agree with you wholeheartedly, Chris. From a purely economic point of view, it's ALWAYS cheaper to keep your old car running. I've always said that.

RAY: Of course, there are other reasons for getting a new car. For example, you might want a car that starts all the time. You might want anti-lock brakes and an airbag or two. You might want adjustable height seat belts...or seatbelts period if you drive a 1963 Dodge Dart like my brother does.

TOM: But from a purely financial standpoint, nothing is cheaper than keeping your old car forever. So follow the instructions in our pamphlet, Chris, and write to us and let us know which one of you wears out first (we'll be rooting for the car).

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